The map of Stodmarsh clearly shows the walk I took on Valentines day and it was a case of love at first sight. The walk is about 6km long or around 4 miles. I did the circular walk; it is very flat and the trail is generally in good condition .The River Stour runs past this area of special scientific interest declared in 1951,with the National Nature Reserve established in 1968. Notice boards give you more information on the way around. Parking at the site is FREE but you can make a voluntary payment (which I did).
On the way into the reserve I drove down a lane, to the left I saw a field of cows and was amazed to see three cattle egrets wandering around them .My camera was in the boot but I did manage to video them. However, I don’t know how to post up a video as yet. A great start but it got even better. It always takes 5 minutes to get going once I’ve parked up: coat, camera ,bins, hat, toilet .Finally ready, I looked up and saw a marsh harrier in front of me. I just got one click but was quite pleased with the shot.
The nature trail is teaming with birds, it’s a great place to sit ,watch and listen with ample seating. I noted a green woodpecker, a chaffinch, several fieldfare, robins and a wren. I must develop my birdsong knowledge because I’m sure I missed many other species. Water also dominates this reserve and in some places it is actually “swampy”.
Male and female chaffinch and at least seven fieldfare in the nature trail area. I then headed to the Tower Hide which overlooked a lake and reedbeds.
The birds I spotted on this part of the journey included :cormorant, coot mallard, tufted duck, shoveler, domesticated duck, pochard ,gadwall, mute swan, and an odd sighting of a ring necked duck.
Mute swan, gadwall and a black headed gull.
At this point I thought about turning back as there was still along way to go but I saw a bench to sit on overlooking marshland; I had a bottle of water but no food .To hell with it I could do with losing a couple of pounds. As I was about to continue I spotted a marsh harrier and a buzzard. I actually thought that the buzzard was a marshy.
Male marsh harrier.
Common buzzard.(This is my best ever shot of a buzzard.)
After this brief encounter I headed towards the Great Stour which leads to Grove ferry and is another access point to Stodmarsh. I later heard that a bittern had been seen there. As I was walking along the river I found myself looking for kingfishers as there were lots of overhanging branches .On the opposite side was marshland where I saw more marsh harriers and little egret.
In the distance I noticed a kestrel hovering; it later settled and I managed to crop it closely.
I turned to the right before I got to Grove Ferry where there were reeds either side of me with some delightful channels which caught the light really well.
Once I walked for what seemed about 400 yards, I turned right onto marshland; it was sign posted. However, at this point I was quite tired and wasn’t sure where I was or where I was going. A bench beckoned me; I sat down for about ten minutes and as always, wildlife came to me. Skylarks sang and rose above me and stonechats perched on anything above the ground.
The last hide was the Marsh hide which gets you get really close to the birds .In the distance were belted cows and gulls flying over with shovelers roosting on the islands. The lapwings were amazing ,easily spooked to aid self preservation. A very pleasing hide.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is the beavers which are at Stodmarsh; I didn’t see any on this occasion but the evidence is there .as you can see below.
This blog took longer than I wanted. It must have been a good trip.